Back at the beginning of October we headed to Somerset for the Autumn Steam Gala on the West Somerset Railway.
Sebby is steam train mad and his godparents had rented a holiday cottage in Watchet and invited us to spend the weekend with them and their Dad, who used to work the railways and was helping out for the weekend.
Having him and all his fabulous stories really made the weekend special and the kids loved hearing all his tales. In fact he was working on the very last steam train that travelled from Bournemouth to Bath back in the 1960’s.
We boarded his train at Watchet station and made the journey to Minehead where we got off the train to have a look around the town.
I have to admit that it wasn’t the bustling haven of activity that I had imagined it to be, but then it was out of season and not the school holidays either so we decided to head back to the station, watch the trains come and go and fill up with water before heading back to ride the whole line all the way to Bishops Lydeard.
After setting off on our next “steamie” we were approached by a guard who asked if we were hungry. It turns out that they were serving cooked breakfasts on board in a dining carriage and although we had brought a picnic with us we could not pass up such a rare experience of being able to eat on a moving steam train.
The West Somerset Railway is the longest heritage railway in England and some of the stations have museums to visit and even model railways that enthusiast build and run.
There is something about model railways that kids love and they spent ages watching the trains go about their business.
Also at Bishops Lydeard is the The Gauge Museum on Platform 1 which has many items of local rail interest and shows how the railway affected the people who worked on and used the line.
The Museum also contains a working model railway, a working signal box for the kids to operate and even some old-fashioned clothes to try on so they look the part.
I have to praise all the employees and volunteers for creating such a fabulous event. The stations were spotlessly clean and decorated with magnificent floral displays.
If you get the chance to visit the West Somerset Railway I would highly recommend it as travelling the entire line is lots of fun and an unforgettable experience.
We headed back to Watchet after a full day on the trains, ready to explore the town and beach the next day.
Thankfully the weather was a bit better and we decided to explore the ancient harbour town with it’s quaint streets, beautiful old houses and the famous statue of the ancient mariner.
We had studied the map before setting off for our walk and the kids spotted fossil hunting and rockpooling at Helwell Bay so we purchased some nets and buckets before taking the short walk over the cliff. We were treated by a steam train thundering past as we went too.
It was a bit of a hairy walk down the steps to the beach, but it is well worth it.
Isaac had found a fossil within about ten minutes of searching the stoney shore.
Sebastian was more interested in collecting shells and built up quite an impressive collection in his bucket.
Eliza was the one determined to do some rockpooling and ended up soaked as she tried to catch some of the creatures she spotted.
It was a lovely weekend break and I would highly recommend a visit to the West Somerset Railway. Keep an eye on their website for events and their Santa Express is coming up in December.